Monday, December 20, 2010

December On Our Grills Challenge

I have very little experience with kumquats. Scratch that, I have very little experience EATING or COOKING with kumquats.

Epicurious tells us that:
The edible golden orange rind is sweet, while the rather dry flesh is very tart. The entire fruit — skin and flesh — is eaten, and very ripe fruit can be sliced and served raw in salads or as a garnish. The kumquat is more likely to be found cooked, however, either candied or pickled whole or in preserves or marmalades. Fresh kumquats are available from November to March.
What they fail to mention is that they are also very aerodynamic. When I was a kid in Florida, one of my neighborhood friends had a kumquat tree in his yard. We never ate many but we had many a "kumquat battle", pelting each other with the tiny fragrant fruits.

What does all of that have to do with today's post? Well it's that time of month again, the On Our Grills challenge where a group of grillers is challenged with creating a meal based around 4 ingredients and at least the protein has to be cooked on the grill (or some sort of live fire). There is no winner and no one gets voted off. It is just an exercise in creativity and pushes ones culinary preferences. This month's ingredients are:

flank steak



Wow. Ok, flank steak and kumquats was easy, I went straight to a marinade idea with the kumquats.

1/4 cup ginger - soy sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry
4 whole kumquats, pulverized in a mini food processor
2 dried red chilies
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp ginger sea salt from Marx Foods
1/4 cup peanut oil

I marinated the steak for 3 hours.

I'd never cooked fresh beets before so I followed the process in Joy of Cooking for roasting them (roasting covered in a pan with a little water). But I added some mirin in the roasting pan to follow the Asian them that the steak started. And of COURSE, instead of the oven, I used Alexis' Big Green Egg to roast them for an hour at 375f. When they finished I peeled them, cut them up and tossed them in some butter and fennel pollen.

When that was about half way though, I fired up my Big Green Egg.

I grilled the flank steak for 4 minutes per side at 450-500f.

As soon as that came off the grill to rest, I put my wok on the grill and stir fired (stir frying on the grill) some store bought gnocchi and a sauce made of
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 Tbsp cold water
3 tsp crunchy peanut butter
3 tsp teriyaki sauce
1 1/2 tsp honey
1 1/2 tsp ginger, ground
1 dried red chili

I added in:
1/4 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 cup shredded carrots

The results were surprisingly good.

  • The steak was perfectly medium rare and was flavorful but I could have used more of the Asian and citrus flavors. I think a longer marinade time would help that. And sriracha in the marinade would be nice too.
  • The gnocchi stir fry was delicious and I will definitely make that again.
  • The beets...ummm....yeah. I just didn't care for their "earthy" taste. They also could have cooked another 15 minutes. I wish I had gone with my first impulse and use them in some pot stickers.

Check out the other participants to see what they came up with using these same 4 ingredients.

About the "On Our Grills" 4 Ingredient Challenge Bloggers

Grill Adventures by Broadcast Marc
Grill Adventures by broadcastmarc was started in March of 2010. I started the BBQ thing when I was 30, before that we ate a lot outside. had fun, but when the kids came into our life we started serious cooking. Most of it is really healthy I think). The grill has a special place in my heart because we love to do things outside. Everything I make is an adventure, and sometimes we use the books. We try to grill as much as we can year round.
Marc's December Ingredient Challenge Recipe:

The BBQ Grail
The BBQ Grail website was created in 2007, initially to document the author’s quest to find the perfect backyard BBQ experience. Since that time The BBQ Grail has become one of the more popular BBQ blogs on the internet and is listed as one of the top BBQ blogs.
Larry's December Challenge Recipe

Into the Flames
Rob launched Into The Flames in the summer of 2010 as a way to share his passion for cooking, eating, and exploring food.
Rob's December Challenge Recipe

No Excuses BBQ
The No Excuses BBQ website was started in January of 2009 as a way to record the author's goal of cooking outdoors at least once a week throughout the year and showing the results to the world. Somewhere along the way things got out of control...
No Excuses BBQ’s December Ingredient Challenge Recipe

Bob’s Brew and ‘Que
Bob started Bob’s Brew and ‘Que in August of 2009 with the intent of sharing his views on food and drink. Originally focused on BBQ and Homebrew, it was inevitable that the influences of his upbringing in the San Francisco Bay Area and it’s wealth of ingredients as well as his heritage as an American of Japanese ancestry would help focus his blog, as it has his approach to food and drink.
Bob’s December Challenge Recipe


  1. Well...the meal looks beautiful! Not much (ok any) experience with kumquats either, but now I know where to go!

    I love the Asian flavors!!!

  2. my mom has a kumquat tree and normally we use it to make a drink.. similar to lemonade. it's really refreshing. i, too, have never cooked with kumquats, but you surely did something creative and magical with them! lovely!

  3. Wow Chris I'm impressed with the creativity of the meal. It looks and sounds very good.

  4. I've never had a kumquat before...not by itself, not with anything else. Despite that.. I would devour that steak for sure!! YUM! And the gnocchi, well that's just "puddin'" as my grandma used to say!!

  5. Kumquat? Quat's that? Actually, I tried a kumquat once, ate it skin and all. I think I liked it. I love that tree on your deck. Maybe if I had a festive little tree next to my grill I'd be more inclined to grill during these dark months. Plus the coyotes wouldn't get me. Merry Christmas to you and your family Chris.

  6. Asian style gnocchi. With peanut butter. And kumquats. I can't believe you went there. Awesome.

    I've never eaten or cooked kumquats either. But maybe I should bring some to Christmas. To pelt my relatives with when they start to get on my nerves.

  7. Chris - Grab a drink. I'm going to write a book.

    First, I love the Christmas tree on your deck. The Big Green Eggs are members of the family and therefore deserve their own tree, for sure.

    Secondly, I love this whole challenge idea. Your use of the kumquats in a marinade was nothing short of genius. Love that. The beets...never had them. Not sure that I want to. The gnocchi stir fry sounds great. Then again, anything with gnocchi sounds great, right?

    I saw your comment about the risotto. Here's my two cents. I think you are an extremely capable cook/grill expert and have complete confidence in your risotto making skills. I think it's entirely possible that you're just not into it. Saying that, if you try it again, maybe you can make it your own with some shredded pork, pepperjack cheese, and chiles. I did something like that one time and really enjoyed the change of pace from the typical Italian flavors.

    I haven't been around much lately, so I had to make up for it with an extra long post. I hope you and your family have a great Christmas and New Years. No doubt that you and Alexis will cook up a wonderful feast together!

  8. Well, I don't have much experience with Flank Steak. I have always struggles to get it tender. I love a good citrus/soy combination though. I might just have to give flank steak another try.

  9. I had no idea what a kumquat was, except that I use it as a term of endearment for my cats.

  10. I actually own a kumquat tree. It came with the house. My first experiene with kumquats was in a W.C. Field movie. Mr. Muckle wanted a piece of gum and another custemmore kept shouting "Bring me my kumquats". I like them as snacks. They are great in chuntney and salsa. I have a great fruitcake recipe featuring kumquats. I definately will try your recipe.

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  12. Fribbin frabbin kumquats. Actually, they were pretty interesting to work into the theme. Nicely done Chris.

  13. I am loving everything about this whole meal. The flank looks perfectly cooked and the gnocchi sounds delicous.

  14. Great use of all the ingredients Chris! Had I participated I was going to do a beet pesto but I really hate beets so I'm not too upset I missed it lol. :)

    I love your Christmas tree next to the grill. Nice touch!

    Merry Christmas!

    Robyn aka GrillGrrrl

  15. Looks great....happy new year for you and your family too..


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